Your first year of high school is like a circus.
Each day you have to jump through all sorts of hoops just to make it to bed on time, and the next day promises just the same.
There’s constant social issues. Late night studying. Intense extracurriculars.
But choosing the right classes – that’s the easy part.
While actually deciding which classes to take throughout your high school career may not seem like the most grueling task, it is one of the most important.
The courses you choose will determine how much free time you will have, how interested you will be, and whether you are adequately prepared for college.
So in reality, there’s a lot at stake.
The good news is that, despite the overwhelming assortment of classes your school may offer, you can compile them into a schedule that sets you up for success both during and after high school.
All it takes is a little information from someone who’s been there before.
Hit the Ground Running
Starting high school is intimidating. Many students believe that taking the most basic classes offered to freshmen will be plenty. And hey, maybe it will.
But you don’t want to be “most students.” So here’s what you need to know:
1. the classes you can choose are designed for your grade level
Here’s the thing: the people who sit down and choose which courses should be available for first-year students know that multi-variable calculus isn’t the best option. And that’s why you won’t see it on your list of choices.
The options you have will be catered to students who are intellectually similar to you.
2. You need to push yourself
Knowing that you can succeed at any class offered is great, but if you don’t take the hard ones, it means nothing. As a 9th grader, it is absolutely necessary to push yourself.
Often, students decide to test the waters of this new land by taking easy courses. These may include pottery, beginner english, or arithmetic. They then plan on upping the intensity in the future.
The only problem with this theory is that by the time you get to the future, it’s already too late.
Most high schools have courses set up so that a student who begins their high school career taking challenging classes can then take a small step up each year. They then follow a path of equally demanding courses until they graduate.
However, this also means that those who start off with easy classes have an extremely difficult journey if they want to get on the fast track – they just won’t be ready.
A typical high school course might look like this:
3. You have enough time to take challenging classes
Here’s a breakdown for how much time a student with 5 advanced classes might spend per night on homework:
If you get home at 3 and start on homework, you’re done by 5:30, if not sooner.
When you put in the work right away, things fall into place. Not only will the classes have more of a college vibe, they are sure to be more interesting, too.
Set yourself up for continuing success by taking the tough classes right away. Trust me, you can do it. All it takes is a little work.
4. Avoid specialized classes
As far as non-preparatory classes go (i.e. woodworking, pottery, marine biology), make sure they are not the focus of your freshman schedule.
It’s critical to solidify your basic skills during the beginning of high school – taking core classes like math, english, history, and science are key.
This is not to say you shouldn’t take any – it’s great to find out what interests you, and having a little break is important, too.
You just don’t want to take creative drawing for four years, and then realize you needed to take biology and chemistry to get on a pre-med track in college.
With that said, if you have a certain interest that you know you want to focus on – and are fairly sure that you will make a career of – go ahead and pursue it.
Taking every advanced class you can may not be a great idea, but taking as many as you can while still being successful is. There will be homework. There will be long nights.
But when you look back, you will be glad you did everything you could to put yourself on the right path at the beginning of your high school career.